Racism has no place in Judaism, President Shimon Peres declared on Thursday at a
swearing-in ceremony at the Supreme Court, and said that, as president and as a
citizen of Israel, he was appalled by revelations of incitement and
Peres warned against apathy and indifference to such a scourge,
saying that indifference to atrocity is no different than the atrocity itself.
He was aware of the dire straits of the residents of south Tel Aviv and other
places, he said, but notwithstanding the hardships that are being endured,
hatred of the other was not the way. It was up to the state, Peres continued, to
find a lawful solution to the problem, but at the same time everyone must unite
to condemn and uproot the voices of incitement and racism.
“Hatred of the
stranger is alien to the foundations of Judaism,” said the president.
are obligated to respect the stranger and the other in our midst and to uphold
their rights as human beings.”
Peres quoted a Bible passage from the Book
of Deuteronomy as proof that this is one of the fundamentals of
Two new justices were sworn in to replace Dorit Beinisch, who
retired at the end of February, and Eliezer Rivlin, who retired this
The new justices are former Tel Aviv District Court Judge Uri
Shoham and former dean of the Tel Aviv University law school Daphna
They join Noam Sohlberg and Zvi Zylbertal, who like them were
appointed earlier in the year. Sohlberg and Zylbertal replaced retired judges
Ayala Procaccia and Edmond Levy, and took up their posts almost
Rivlin’s retirement paved the way for Justice Miriam Naor to
become deputy president to Asher Dan Grunis, thus capping a 32-year career in
the field of law.
Of the four most recent appointees to the Supreme
Court, Barak, unless she decides on a career change, will serve the longest,
because at 47, she is the youngest. The retirement age for judges is currently
70, which is three years above the retirement age for men and six years above
the retirement age for women. Beinisch, however, was 70 when she retired in
It is possible that by the time Barak is 70, the retirement age
for judges will have been raised to 75.
The announcement of the
appointments of the four new justices came only a few weeks prior to Beinisch’s
She and Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman had been at
loggerheads for months over who the new justices would be.
There are nine
members on the Judges Selection Committee, and at least seven votes are required
to guarantee the appointment of a new judge.
Other appointees included
Ariel Zimmerman, who was appointed a magistrates court judge in the Tel Aviv
District Court and Yossi Topf, who was appointed to the Southern District
Also appointed were seven court registrars to
magistrates courts across the country.
The appointees were Moshe
Holtzman, Varda Schwartz, Nir Nachshon, Ofra Guy, Yaniv Boker, Maya Av-Ganim
Weinstein, and Rivka Arad.
Peres, Grunis and Neeman all referred to
Barak’s brilliant academic record and to the wealth of experience that Shoham is
bringing to his new role.
Though most new judges these days are natives
of the country, neither Barak nor Shoham were born in Israel.
born in the United States and he was born in Iraq in the same year as the
creation of the State of Israel.
The addition of Barak and Shoham to the
Supreme Court would complement the human mosaic of its composition, in that the
Supreme Court is a reflection of Israeli society, said the court
Although the two newcomers will help to lighten the burden of
the heavy case-load of the Supreme Court, said Grunis, their presence will not
solve the problem of the backlog.
A very creative solution is needed for
that, he added.
Neeman also referred to the backlog, but said that it was
traditional for the judges of Israel to work hard. Moses is quoted in the Bible
as judging the people from morning till night, said Neeman.
speaking on behalf of her colleagues stipulated that judges in the pursuit of
justice must forget about whether what they decide will make them popular. What
counts, she said, is a careful review of all the evidence and that whatever
ruling is made is based solely on the interests of justice. This was also
part of Grunis’s message.
Peres, in congratulating Naor, noted that in
reaching her decisions, she had never taken the easy route. He also praised
Rivlin for the impressive contribution that he had made to Israel’s legal system
during a career that spanned 36 years, of which 12 were spent as a justice in
the Supreme Court.
Among those in attendance were past and present
members of the Supreme Court, including the two immediate past presidents Dorit
Beinisch and Aharon Barak.